Louis-area native among astronauts picked for SpaceX launch

NASA is naming 8 astronauts to fly SpaceX and Boeing's new spaceships - here's how to watch the announcement live

Nasa has named the astronauts who will fly the first missions into space on commercially provided rockets and capsules, starting next year.

The astronauts will fly on two new spacecraft, the Starliner and Crew Dragon, which are being developed by Boeing and Elon Musk's SpaceX, respectively, as part of NASA's commercial crew program.

"This is a big deal for our country, and we want America to know we're back".

Boeing's first crewed Starliner test flight will be flown by NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann and Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson in mid-2019.

NASA on Thursday said it expects SpaceX to fly its first astronauts in April of 2019 and Boeing will follow, launching astronauts into space in the middle of next year. Ferguson, a former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander, is Boeing's director of crew and mission systems.

Cassada is a rookie astronaut selected in 2013, while Williams, the fourth astronaut selected for commercial crew training, has spent 322 days in space on two long-duration station missions.

With these launches the United States will recover its prominence in the space race after seven years of depending on Russian infrastructure to send its astronauts into space.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are also working with Bigelow Aerospace, a Las Vegas company that plans to launch private space stations into orbit, to be leased to nations or companies.

The crew missions have been delayed repeatedly because of the technical challenges and difficulties of making spacecraft safe for humans. He joined NASA in 2000 to become an astronaut, and piloted the space shuttle Endeavor for STS-127. The Starliner is now set to launch in the middle of 2019.

During his work with NASA, he's collected over 378 hours of space time and 19 hours of spacewalk time. Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will fly with SpaceX.

The successful flight marked the scheduled end of the 30-year space shuttle program.

No NASA astronaut has rocketed into space from American soil since July 8, 2011, when the space shuttle Atlantis took off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, laden with 28,000 pounds of supplies for the International Space Station. Once they receive the certification, NASA expects the companies to launch as many as six crews to the International Space Station. Williams previously logged 321 days in orbit on two stays aboard the space station, most recently returning to the Earth in 2012. Similarly, the first Starliner is being now being outfitted for launch at Kennedy Space Center, and the test flight's Atlas V Centaur upper stage-never flown in the dual-engine configuration-ships to Florida in August.

After a almost decadelong hiatus, NASA plans to once again start launching piloted spacecraft from American soil, this time aboard two commercially developed vehicles, beginning in early to mid-2019.

Glover and Cassada are spaceflight rookies. (BA) to the punch when it comes to flying astronauts to the International Space Station. "I look forward, sir, to getting you down there at some point out in Hawthorne [SpaceX's California headquarters] and maybe you can sit next to us in the cockpit and go through flying the iPhone to dock to space station".

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